child_whip

“… but the soul of the hearer must be prepared by good habits to rejoice in the good and hate the evil, just as the soil must be well tilled to nourish the seed. “ Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics

For parents, it’s all about the children. Aristotle speaks of preparing a soul to ‘hear’ moral teachings. He is well aware that many young adults become in a sense beyond reaching–because of their bad habits. In his moral philosophy Aristotle never lost sight of the youth, and all that is needed to empower them to hear, and live, the truth.

His moral views are bracing. In an age of confusion, blur, false distinctions, and redefinitions, his clarion vision cuts through the mist.

To rejoice in the good and hate the evil; that is the object. There is a real distinction between good and evil, and the human soul’s responses should be patterned accordingly. Therein, alone, is real happiness: when the soul moves in affective harmony with the reality of good and evil. When this is accomplished—and it can be; we have seen it done—it is a masterpiece beyond compare.

Yet the soul is like soil. Earth calls out for the seed: it was made for it. But really to receive it, to nourish it, it must be tilled. Tilling brings out the latent power of soil.

What a power lies in the human soul, especially of children. Like warm, dark earth.

The formation of children is an art. Arts have specific means and ends. They must be learned, and practiced. Over generations. The art of ‘education’—the Latin word means a drawing-out, and it originally referred to the whole realm of forming the young—is fundamentally a tilling of the soul. So that it learns…to rejoice in the good and hate the evil. And thus to come alive, with its own true life.

From the very beginning of their children’s lives, parents can be molding those souls, ever so gently, carefully, lovingingly. Long before children can ‘hear’ moral teachings, they are hearing much; and their affections are being formed.

What art is more important? With what else should we be concerned? For the sake of the children.

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), student of Plato, tutor of Alexander the Great, has been considered by many to be the greatest ancient philosopher.

Image: Winslow Homer

Originally posted at Bacon from Acorns

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John A. Cuddeback is a professor and chairman of the Philosophy Department at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, where he has taught since 1995. He received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America under the direction of F. Russell Hittinger. He has lectured on various topics including virtue, culture, natural law, friendship, and household. His book Friendship: The Art of Happiness was republished in 2010 as True Friendship: Where Virtue Becomes Happiness. His writings have appeared in Nova et Vetera, The Thomist, and The Review of Metaphysics, as well as in several volumes published by the American Maritain Association. Though raised in what he calls an ‘archetypical suburb,’ Columbia, Maryland, he and his wife Sofia consider themselves blessed to be raising their six children in the shadow of the Blue Ridge on the banks of the Shenandoah. At the material center of their homesteading projects are heritage breed pigs, which like the pigs of Eumaeus are fattened on acorns, yielding a bacon that too few people ever enjoy. His website dedicated to the philosophy of family and household is baconfromacorns.com.